S2: Episode 31 - Felicita

Episode Information

[Intro Music]

Narrator:  Welcome to Hunger and Resilience, narrative histories about the complexity and experiences of hunger. A traveling exhibition and weekly podcast edited and hosted by Michael Nye, supported by the San Antonio Food Bank, Eric Cooper, executive director. We are grateful for the honesty and eloquence of every voice. Episode 31, Felicita.

Felicita: One time a lied to the border patrols. I had five wetbacks here in the trailer. I had to lie that time because they were poor. They don’t have no shoes. They were hungry. You know, they were on the train and they came and knocked and they were hiding. You know, I make some burritos and potatoes. I get some gallons, and I put some water for them, and then somebody would report them that they were here, over here. And I feel sorry, you know, but I told the border patrols, I lied ’em, I put it on the closet, and I say, they came early where they went. I said, I don’t know. And I told them, well, if you wanna come and check inside. And one of the border patrols said, no, but there were kids. So I was trying to help these people.

My daughter, she had problems, you know, she was drinking and using drugs and everything. And, uh, one time she told me, mom, you know what? Maybe they’re gonna take my kids away from me. And I said, no. And I told Marta, Marta, leave them with me. I’ll take care of them. I, I never was in trouble, you know, or nothing. But the only thing, I was poor. Everything that I did, I did it for my grandkids. Sometimes I go to the neighbors and sometimes I ask for a little flour or beans. And I used to go to the other ladies, do you need help? Do you need to clean the house? Or something? And they say, yeah, can you do it? And I say, yes. So when I get $2, $3, I go and buy something for my grandkids. I make, sometimes apple pie for them.

I can make lasagna, spaghetti, chile con carne uh, beans with chorizo, but I never show them that I feel sad, you know, for them. There were six kids, my grandkids in the house, sometimes at night. I say, well, what I’m gonna do tomorrow? I was thinking to see what’s I’m gonna give the kids for next day. I went to the Safeway. My kids were asleep. I went down there, I saw the people. I went steal, I steal about five grapes in my jacket, one grape for each kid. They need food. You know, they need something different, you know? And then I went outside. I feel sorry it was bad to be stealing, you know? But I had to, there was an old man, I don’t remember his name. And he said, well, uh, ma’am, you need food? And I said, no. He said, don’t be embarrassed.

He said, what do you need? And I said, I need milk and cereals. Don’t worry about it. I’ll give you some. He gave me those big boxes of cereals and bananas, pears, oranges and everything. He gave me some coronation. You know, the boxes. Ooh, I was happy. I told the kids, Mijo got some milk already, grandma, is that fresh? And I said, yeah, but it wasn’t fresh. It was from the box. And I told the kids, well, mijo, you’re not gonna be no hungry no more. You can eat whatever you want. They were happy. They say, grandma are, they’re gonna give us some more. And, you know, sometimes I cry.

[Outro Music]

Host: Stories are often found, resting along the edges of surprise and revelation. Whatever I can say about Felicita is not enough. She has a kindness, a humility, and a power. Deep, deep within her voice is moving and has weight and gravity. Can anyone really understand the life of another person? I’m reminded how important food banks, soup kitchens, and other relief and religious organizations are that provide food and optimism and opportunities and resources to those that are struggling. We are thankful for Felicita, courageous voice in her presence. I’m Michael Nye. You can go to my website, michaelnye.org/podcast for portraits and transcripts. Thank you for your generous listening.